You may wonder why on earth a coach and management consultant chose a book on joy to review. In my practice, the topic of increasing and enhancing joy comes up over and over – both for my leadership coaching clients and for the companies I consult with.

So I got curious about joy, and picked up Joyful, by designer Ingrid Fetell Lee. In the book, she details ten esthetics of joy: energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, and renewal.

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I’ve split them into categories: visual, feeling, and experience, although all of these have elements of all three.


We take in tons of visual cues that can literally shift our moods to become more joyful and expansive. Fetell Lee talks about color studies showing higher positive energy and substantially less crime when vibrant paint colors are used in schools and in crime-ridden urban areas.

Seeing abundance (tons of the same thing together, like a bouncy ball pit) and harmony (balance and symmetry, as with chorus line dancers and snowflakes) also trigger deep satisfaction for us.


In addition to visual cues, things we feel can bring joy. Freedom, which we feel by being in open spaces or in nature (or by taking off high-heeled shoes, in my opinion!), helps people feel happier, as does transcendence, which Fetell Lee uses to describe the feeling of being up high or feeling lighter than air.

And play, whether it’s in the form of organized games or just goofing off brings joy, too.


Experiencing surprise (like from a jack-in-the-box), contrast (like rainbow-striped socks paired with a business suit), or whimsy (like a plastic flamingo in a front yard), can break us out of our routines and create pops of excitement. Same goes for anything that appears to be magical.

And Joyful shows that both the act of celebration and renewal (blossoming, growth, and newness) spark happiness and delight.

Joyful also includes deep questions and worksheets at the end of the book designed to help you understand the specifics of joy to you – don’t miss those!

The one piece that feels like it’s missing from Joyful is relationships. For me, they bring the most joy of all! Better understanding the things that spark bliss in you can help you in your quest for becoming more joyful.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of joy? Share it with us in the comments below.